Third Asian Marine Casualty Forum enjoys record attendance

The third edition of the Asian Marine Casualty Forum (AMCF) concluded with delegates calling for greater cooperation and continuing dialogue to address the major challenges now facing the marine casualty and salvage industry.

Following the tremendous success of the Forum last week, organisers LOC hope the AMCF will return for a fourth edition of the conference during Singapore Maritime Week in April 2021.

Highlights of the final day on Friday 12th of AMCF 2019 included a session on bribery and corruption, wrecks and the environment and container ship casualties, with delegates hearing from world leading industry specialists and participating in lively panel debates.

The work and objectives of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) drew particular attention with some attending key response organisations expressing an interest to become members. A panel debate on the challenges faced in the industry from bribery & corruption heard that many were now adopting a “stand firm” policy against those demanding reward to perform their rightful duties.

There was an engaging spotlight on wrecks and the environment and delegates heard about the environmental and liability issues arising from the Shen Neng 1 casualty in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

They were then treated to a fascinating case study of the oil removal from the 1985 wreck of Manolis L off the coast of Newfoundland in almost zero temperature using ROVs and purpose designed tools for hot tapping.

The question was asked if this might see the end of diver intervention when such technology is available. Finally, spill response was addressed in the context of the media and delegates received invaluable advice on how the media in all its forms has an impact.

With the spate of container ship fires over recent months, the session on managing container ship fires, followed by a panel debate on their causes and consequences, was timely. The many challenges were highlighted and delegates heard an impressive description of an all-embracing Crisis Management Plan to meet these challenges when such casualties occur.

The panel debate involved specialists from all quarters of the industry addressing challenges faced by salvors. Misdeclared cargoes was agreed in a delegate poll as the main cause of container ship fires, other issues addressed were larger holds, exacerbating firefighting, training and learning from repetitive occurrences.

Suggestions for reducing the risk of fires were made and debated and container ship design was questioned. Given the constant problem of misdeclared cargoes and fires caused as a consequence, criminal prosecution, even corporate manslaughter where loss of life was concerned, was proposed as the appropriate deterrent.

Finally, distressed cargo from container ship fires was discussed with terminal storage space highlighted as a major consideration. Delegates saw dramatic examples of fire damage and the handling of damaged containers and cargoes. The impact on local communities from major casualties was addressed with examples from New Zealand and Pacific islands. The need to understand the local customs and cultures together with clear and fluent communications between parties was underlined.

In his closing remarks, AMCF Chairman David Pockett noted that despite a spate of major containership incidents over almost two decades the industry was still grappling with the same issues.

He also questioned whether there were adequate efforts to learn from major casualties by way of post mortems which should include all key parties involved.

Hosted by LOC, the marine and engineering consultants, AMCF attracted almost 450 unique delegates over the two-day forum which took place at Marina Bay Sands’ Expo & Convention Centre. The event has become a cornerstone of Singapore Maritime Week since its inception in 2015.

Delegate feedback to the organisers after day two of AMCF was very positive and the on the spot, real time voting by delegates during the conference pointed towards a growing need for more dialogue between insurers and other parts of the shipping industry in particular the assureds.

Riya Amarjeet Kaur, legal counsel, TATA NYK Shipping (Singapore), said: “AMCF was very helpful for owners like us because it brings in everyone from insurers, to salvage interests and it gives us a clear view on how we can mitigate risk for our company. It also poses the question for owners: “Is my insurance coverage adequate and company risk assessment robust? It’s a great way to benchmark.”

“I will certainly be coming back again for the next edition of AMCF”.

Dave Wisse, Commercial Manager of Smit Salvage Singapore, said: “This was a great event; high level presentations and discussions by the top of the industry. A well-organised gathering and perfect for networking. On to the next edition please!”

Nigel Clifford, Deputy Director, Safety and Response Services, Maritime New Zealand, added: “This is a great event. It is the third time we attended AMCF and it has been so good to see so many people from different parts of the industry from all over the world. There has been good engagement on serious some issues and I think the organisers have picked very topical matters.

“This event has become the must-attend for people in our business today”.

AMCF’s use of audience engagement technology, in which delegates were able to interact with panellists and speakers in real time via a smartphone application, facilitated the two-way communication between the audience and the speakers.

Andrew Squire, Deputy Chairman of LOC, said: “We are heartened by this year’s AMCF which has been the most successful to date. We believe the event is now firmly established as one of the most unique and important forums for the global industry to come together and discuss the big issues of the day in salvage and casualty work”.